I went with my family to visit the grandparents during the Easter holidays. The weather was pretty poor so indoor activities like scoffing chocolate, watching TV and sleeping were the main pastimes. Suited me fine. One morning though, in a rare fit of energetic enthusiasm, we went swimming, at a nearby leisure centre.
Inside the changing rooms we had a slight problem with a locker that wouldn't lock. We're a family of six; we were using two large lockers but one of them had jammed and the coin was stuck inside. I didn't have another coin. It was no big deal but I had to ask a member of staff for help- a lifeguard in a yellow polo shirt and red swim shorts, like the star of Baywatch, if it was filmed in Gloucestershire. But David Gloucesterhoff couldn't help. He had to call someone else on a walkie-talkie to come and fix it. So it turned into one of those, you know - one of those things. My wife and the kids headed into the pool while I sorted it out.
Eventually the locker was locked and I prepared to join them in the pool. Having been left responsible for all locker-related business, I was now sporting two locker key wrist bands, one on each wrist. You know the ones - like cheap, plastic watch straps, designed to conceal the sharp, metal locker key and prevent it from scratching and causing injury. The straps are made from sharp, abrasive plastic which ironically scratch and cause injury. If you pull them too tight they pinch the skin rather painfully as well. Once in place however, they make you feel like you're wearing some kind of Batman wrist gadget - especially if you wear two at once, as I was.
So now I was Locker Man, the middle-aged, balding, pale skinned, out of shape, semi-naked super hero whose special power is unlocking lockers.
Just before I entered the pool there was a shower area where signs instructed me to shower before entering the pool. Why? I didn't need a shower. I'd showered only an hour or two before. I wasn't covered in mud or filth of any kind. I wasn't radioactive either, as far as I knew. What's more I was about to get into a swimming pool containing enough chemicals to justify an investigation by a United Nations special envoy. And I was Locker Man. I could do what I want.
But I showered again anyway. I didn't want to appear unhygienic. Didn't want people to point at me and run out of the pool screaming because the dirty man was about to get in.
I didn't mind actually. I knew the pool would be cold and the shower was hot, so I was happy to linger for a bit longer - but that's when I was approached by one of the pool managers - fully dressed. He'd already smiled and said hello from a distance but now he was heading straight for me.
"Did you used to be on TV?" he asked.
I was a bit taken aback - not by the question, that's fairly common and doesn't bother me - it was more the situation. I felt slightly vulnerable. I wasn't completely naked. I was wearing swim shorts but I was still under a shower - having a shower. He was wearing a suit and tie, leather shoes and a coat. It didn't seem to bother him and he moved closer. He was within close range now. Close enough to get wet - but that didn't seem to bother him either.
"What programme was it?" he persisted.
I answered, trying to remain polite, thinking he'd quickly move on but he didn't. He wanted to shake my hand now. So he moved even closer. Water was splashing all over his clothes and shoes and he was shaking my wet hand. He was practically in the shower with me.
I don't want to sound ungrateful. I'm pleased he was interested in me enough that he wanted to shake my hand - but he kept on shaking my hand and wouldn't let go and now I really wanted him to leave me alone. It was just too awkward. I wanted to join my wife and kids in the pool but instead I was holding hands with a fully dressed man in a shower, talking about Saturday morning TV from 20 years ago.
In the end I had to make a run for it. I yanked my hand from his vice-like grip, leapt out of the shower and headed for the pool shouting, "Nice to meet you!"
But he wasn't giving up. He wasn't going to let me get away that easily. He was hot on my heels, telling me about his own family and how they used to watch the show. Standing pool side while he described fond recollections was all very well but he was wearing clothes and I wasn't; the effects of the hot shower had worn off and I was cold and starting to shiver. There was only one means of escape; an uncharacteristic and sudden dive into the pool. Splash! I was in. His muffled voice was barely audible above the bubbling in my ears as I swam as far as I could under the water.
Safe at last. But no. He dived in after me. Swimming behind me, fully clothed; still going on about Andi Peters and Ed the Duck. I'm not a fast swimmer. Ed the Duck who's not even a real duck is a better swimmer. It's the breathing thing. I've never really mastered the breathing thing, so I still do breast stroke with my head out of the water, like some elderly folk and young children do. The sodden manager caught up with me easily, even swimming in a suit and coat. And now he wanted an autograph. Not for him. For a relative. He was waving a pen and a soggy bit of paper.
I was left with no choice. I looked around. No one was watching. Thankfully my kids were at the other end of the pool with my wife, happily playing, so they didn't see. They didn't see me push his head under the water. They didn't see me holding it there, while he kicked and struggled, still gurgling about Peter Simon's Double Dare, Phillip Schofield's hair colour and Swing Your Pants. It took all the strength I could muster to keep him under the water. My face showed no emotion. No sign of what was happening. I even smiled at my kids across the pool in the distance.
I felt a bit bad. It was Easter after all but it was his fault. He'd brought it on himself. He'd crossed the line.
In a hygienically protected area, where you are forced to shower before entering a heavily chlorinated swimming pool, he wore outdoor shoes.
The dirty bastard.
Don't mess with Locker Man.
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